In the words of the infamous Eloise, “Ooooooo, how I LOVE The Plaza!!!” The Plaza Hotel is a quintessentially New York iconic venue and the lovely Emily Reifel is “The Queen” of weddings at this gorgeous place. She and Kaitlyn Cullen do their jobs with such grace and professionalism. They sprinkle the day with stardust, and make my job easier. During the holiday season, The Plaza also happens to be a major destination for many around the world. Speaking of which, check out this lovely miniature copy in twig and bark from the annual Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden.
There seems to be a tidal wave of change happening across the world. I need not go into the details. You know it. I know it. Our recent election and other elections around the world reflect it.
So here is the question—“the root of the root and the bud of the bud”: Are we going to respond with love or fear?
Awareness begins the asking: Am I responding to this situation— this comment, this event, this person— from love or fear?
I am not suggesting that we should deny our fears. Heck no! That would only give our fears power over us. That only exacerbates the problem.
To acknowledge our fears, to face them openly and honestly, is the path towards liberation and empowerment. That’s the beauty of it!
I am asking that each of us takes a moment to step back, breathe– and make a choice with awareness. You can do this right now with any situation or person in your life. Right now.
I pray to God we choose love. Only love brings hope, healing and peace. Mind you, love does not mean that we do not protect ourselves. It does not mean staying silent. Honesty, openhearted communication, courage and vulnerability all require strength. Great strength.
Hint: If there is defensiveness, anxiety or guilt, there is fear involved. Where there is peace, healing and joy, love is involved. Truth, honesty, care, nobility, charity, respect, humanity and anything positive has love in it. Frustration, hatred, anxiety, panic and anything negative has some form of fear in it.
So, my blessed friend, for 2017, I pray this Jewish prayer for you, “May you go from strength to strength!” Knowing that strength means loving our neighbor as ourselves as Christianity teaches. Knowing that it means seeing the Divine in our neighbor as Hinduism and Sufism teaches us. Knowing that strength is to hold all life sacred as Buddhism and Native American spirituality teaches. Did you know that the golden rule exists in some form in every religion? It does. The different versions are listed in my book, Bless This Child. Most importantly, love begins with self love. So, Dear One, for 2017 I pray that you love and respect yourself fully, boundlessly and unconditionally.
For in the words of Max Ehrmann:
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Blessed 2017!
A special shout out to Jeannie Uyanik and Annie Ma at C&G Weddings for doing such an amazing job with Carrie and Kevin’s wedding at the Lighthouse at Chelsea Piers!
It was pure magic. God bless you in all that you do in helping those in love facilitate their dreams. For those interested, you can check out their site at: www.capandgownweddings.com
God bless Mr. and Mrs. Williams in their new life together! They are a special couple. We love them and wish them every happiness possible.
I am profoundly grateful to my couples for the honor and absolute joy of walking with them, standing by their side, during the most special times in their lives.
These words from Erika and MichaelAaron (an amazing couple) made my heart sing…
“Revve!!! Thank you again for performing such a touching, heartfelt and beautiful ceremony. Both sides could not stop gushing about the perfect way you blended two faiths and cultures, honoring the traditions of both sides. People are still talking about how much they loved it!”
MichaelAaron dubbed me Revve (combining Rev and Rebbe) and they have been calling me that ever since. I love it!
Our bride and groom recently finished their medical residencies and got married. So double congratulations are in order! Here is a photo of Josh and Kathy’s ketubah. (Sorry about the shadow. It is my cell phone.) One can say that the painting is Asian inspired. Their wedding was a beautiful fusion of Jewish and Chinese elements. We wrapped the glass in red for double good luck. Their siblings read the seven blessings and an ancient Chinese wedding poem. I sprinkled my talks with quotes from both traditions. I told their love story with a sense of humor that is so typical of their relationship. Elegant—a delightful blend of cultural and personal elements all rooted in love and romance.
The lighting of the Unity Candle is a beloved Christian tradition, one adopted by many interfaith, intercultural couples as well. Did you know that you can personalize it? You may include words that feel right for you, making it truly yours. Here is an example from Cathy and Ray’s wedding!
Harry met Alan were together 24 years when they were finally able to legally wed in Florida.
As Harry wrote to Alan,
At my best
At my worst
At my side
….loving me always
I’m so lucky to be marrying you.
May God bless them and grant them a long life of wedded bliss…
Karin and Michael are a delightful, no drama, know-what-is-important kind of couple. It is not surprising that they enjoyed their wedding to the hilt! In the weddings I conduct, there are tears and there is laughter, as well as moments of poignancy —always sacred, always rooted in love. One of my favorite moments was the signing of the ketubah witnessed by so many of their family and friends, including Grandpa, a holocaust survivor. There were tears by Michael’s father as he read the ketubah. Notice Grandpa’s laughter in one of the photos. What joy! What an honor for me to stand by their sides.
Here is the email I received from the bride, along with a link to their photos by Sarah Tew Photography. Jackie Jaspers of Busy Bride was the wedding planner. She is lovely, a pro. She did an amazing job!
Hi Rev. Susanna!
Wanted to share some pictures with you – here you go!
Oh, how I love New York City views and its iconic landmarks!
Here is the view from Karin and Michael’s wedding at The Liberty Warehouse in Brooklyn (hence the name), and a view from a recent event at Rockefeller Center (notice the moon).